What Went Wrong: Apple Watch Series 7 Rumors Edition
Going into an Apple fall season, excitement typically revolves around the new iPhones. This year, however, the Apple Watch stole some of the iPhone's spotlight due to reports, leaks, and rumors suggesting it would be getting a significant redesign.
One of the biggest surprises during Apple's "California streaming" event was the new Apple Watch, not because of the features or design it included, but instead, the features and designs it didn't.
Flat-Edged Design? Not so fast...
In the weeks and months leading up to the event, credible reports from reliable journalists and leakers suggested the new Apple Watch would be sporting a flat-edged design. The first time we heard of the 2021 Apple Watch getting a redesign was from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who stated in September of 2020, exactly a year before Apple's "California streaming" event, that the new watch will receive a "significant redesign" in 2021 "at the earliest."
In the months that followed Kuo's report, rumors were quiet and stale regarding the 2021 Apple Watch as the focus shifted to more immediate products released throughout 2020. The second time we heard and saw the alleged redesign for the Apple Watch was from Apple leaker Jon Prosser, who in May shared renders depicting an Apple Watch with fully flat-edges, similar to the iPhone and iPad.
In the video sharing the renders, Prosser noted that the renders, he believed, showcased the Apple Watch Series 7, given that Kuo had previously mentioned a significant redesign. Prosser, at the time, however, could not confidently label the design he leaked as the upcoming Apple Watch but became increasingly confident in doing so as the weeks and months went on.
Shortly after, in June, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reported several aspects of the Apple Watch Series 7 that turned out to be accurate. In his first report for the new watch, Gurman noted that it would have a larger display with thinner bezels, a new lamination technique, and a faster processor. Gurman pointed out that the Series 7 would include updated ultra wideband capabilities, but that doesn't seem to be the case now.
In reports and newsletters after, Gurman reported that the Apple Watch Series 7 would feature flat-edges, corroborating Prosser's previously showcased renders. Gurman, however, accurately stated the Series 7 would be equipped with new watch faces, bands and feature significantly more pixels with a redesigned display.
Is miscommunication to blame?
Given that Kuo, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, and leaker Jon Prosser, the most reputable sources for Apple's unreleased product plans, have all reported a flat-edged Apple Watch, it's difficult to dispute its existence within the walls of Apple's labs and offices.
The Apple Watch is a product that garners many rumors and reports, specifically targeting future health capabilities. Recent reporting suggests that next year's Apple Watch, the Series 8, will feature more powerful health sensors and features. Our expectations and the reports of a flat-edged design may have simply been wrongly attributed to the Series 7, while Apple's plans for a complete redesign were aimed for 2022 all along.
Apple is a company that builds on yearly iterative improvements, building on features to achieve an even more all-encompassing product, and that is especially the case for the Apple Watch. With the Series 7, Apple is adding a larger display, improved battery life and energy efficiency, and is elevating the experience of watchOS 8. Using these upgrades, the company is further prepared to launch a redesign of the Apple Watch next year, featuring flat-edges and advanced health sensors.
Alternatively, but highly unlikely, is that Apple made last-minute design changes to the Apple Watch due to production issues. Two weeks before the Series 7 was announced, a report revealed that Apple and its suppliers were struggling to reach "satisfactory" quality levels of the device during "small-scale" production.
While some may speculate the possibility that coupled with the Apple Watch's small footprint and rumored flat-edges, Apple had to suddenly make last-minute design changes, it's worth noting that Apple plans and tests products months, if not years in advance, so it would certainly be unprecedented and nearly impossible for the company to have altered its plans at such a late date.
One thing, however, is for sure, whether or not last-minute design changes were made to the Series 7, is that it's a peculiar release. For example, on Apple's website, the company lacks offering specifications for the new watch, leaving only marketing material boasting about the new and larger display and the features in watchOS 8.
Most striking of all is the lack of information regarding availability and prices for the Apple Watch Series 7. Apple only states it's coming later this fall, which leaves the door open for a release as late as November, and the lack of information regarding pricing beyond the starting price of $399.
Of course, we'll never know for certain what happened and whether Apple had last-minute design changes, or whether all of the previous rumors and reports were simply meant for the Series 8, rather than the Series 7. As stated above, Apple hasn't provided any dates on availability or pricing for the Apple Watch Series 7 and may do so during its rumored second event for the fall, now expected to headline new Apple silicon Macs.